On Monday, United Airlines announced it will reduce service by pre-plating meals on the ground and eliminating a Flight Attendant position on certain international flights beginning February 2019, to "align" with staffing levels at American and Delta.
Reduced staffing means fewer Flight Attendants to respond to medical emergencies, resolve issues at boarding, de-escalate conflict between passengers, back each other up with aggressive passengers, maintain a safe space for everyone, and follow through on addressing any issues of sexual assault or hostile situations. It also means reduced ability to provide good customer service.
"Senior airline management has made a promise to Wall Street investors to keep costs low," said President of United AFA-CWA Master Executive Council Ken Diaz. "They are using reductions in staffing and services as the way to reach their bottom line initiatives."
This issue goes beyond United. "Staffing cuts started during airline bankruptcies. While airline profits have rebounded, staffing cuts keep getting deeper. Our union is totally opposed to staffing cuts and in fact our position is that safety and service require increasing Flight Attendant staffing," said Sara Nelson, AFA-CWA International President. "AFA-CWA will fight this with a coalition of Flight Attendants, airline passengers, other unions, and lawmakers." Members will wear their AFA-CWA pins and participate in solidarity actions.
"It is time to band together to out the real reason for diminished service: short-term gain for Wall Street with billions in stock buybacks funded on our backs," said Diaz. "We are an airline, not a hedge fund. Time to focus on our passengers with realistic Flight Attendant staffing and investment in the people who make our airline fly."